Our outsourced worker members in Royal Parks, who have been on strike for the entirety of October, may be close to a breakthrough in their dispute. The latest communication we’ve received from their employer, the outsourced contractor Just Ask, suggests they are prepared to agree a recognition agreement.
They have also abandoned their initial plans for job cuts of up to one third, although obviously we will push them to commit to no cuts at all. We are hopeful for progress on other issues, such as sick pay, too.
Throughout the dispute, we have sought ways to pressure not only Just Ask but Royal Parks themselves, as the central employer. In the past week, I spoke to the Labour leaders of Camden and Greenwich councils, who both sit on the Royal Parks’ board of trustees. They both agreed to take the issue up on the board, which they subsequently did. Indeed we talked to Camden council leader Georgia Gould on the picket line.
My contact with the council leaders was partly facilitated by the relevant local Trades Councils, so overall it’s a good example of how we can coordinate pressure across the labour movement.
On Friday 22 October, I met informally with Sally Abed, one of the Palestinian leaders of Standing Together, a left-wing Jewish-Arab social movement in Israel. In 2022 I’ll be taking over responsibility for overseeing the union’s international work, so I’m keen to develop links with workers, unions, and class-struggle organisations internationally. Standing Together provide an excellent model of cross-communal organising around a fight for equal rights for both peoples in Israel/Palestine. I hope PCS branches will bring forward proposals to our conferences in 2022 for the union to support Standing Together’s work.
On Tuesday 26 October, I’ll speak to an online members’ meeting as part of the union’s mobilisation around the COP26 climate conference. I discussed in last week’s column our plans for making climate change a workplace organising issue; I want to play my part in making sure the union mobilises around this key question.
• John Moloney is assistant general secretary of the civil service workers’ union PCS, writing here in a personal capacity